Taking the stress out of office moves

A recent poll by energy providers E.ON revealed that two thirds of people regard moving house as the most stressful life event ever.

Things get lost. You realise that your favourite sofa doesn’t fit. And most of us live with piles of boxes lying around, unpacked, for weeks.

But at least no one expects us to throw a formal dinner party the day after we move, or even be able to find a can-opener. In fact, we can blame our day-to-day personal inefficiencies on the new house for months to come.

Not so businesses. Even the most sympathetic customers expect seamless service, whether you’re moving down the road or from one end of the country to the other. And conscientious staff start fretting if they think they won’t be able to complete last week’s complicated order or meet next week’s deadline.

First Line IT have 15 years’ experience in helping companies large and small move offices, and supervising the changeover of IT systems, broadband services, and telephone circuits. Most recently they helped the Institute of Customer Services (ICS) move to new central London offices. Operations Director John Crozier and Technical Director Nim Nagalingam say that the key to a smooth move is meticulous project planning and always having a Plan B.

Talk to all your suppliers and partners as soon as you make the decision to move ‒ and preferably give them at least three months’ notice

Remember that you’re moving more than furniture and fittings ‒ your IT system, broadband supply and telecoms all need to move too, and be connected and working on the first day. This is where working with a company like First Line comes in handy: they can take charge of everything, and manage the different suppliers on your behalf. Otherwise, your job just gets more complicated and stressful.

Even when you’ve got one company to manage everything for you, you still need to give them plenty of time to line up suppliers for both your broadband and telecoms services. Leased Line providers, for example, usually insist on 90 days’ notice. This was potentially a problem for ICS, who only had two months’ notice of their move. ‘Theoretically there was no way that ICS would be able to move in two months,’ said John. ‘However, they had no choice, so we planned a project that meant that, come hell or high water, they would be operational in their new building on move day.’

Build a plan that includes every last detail

For ICS, First Line took responsibility for the complete technical side of the move, including IT and telecoms. ICS wanted to take their telephone numbers with them when they moved, which normally entails a nail-biting process of allowing the phone company to disconnect your old line before connecting your new line in your new premises. First Line planned to avoid that by installing a new system in the new building and connecting it with a temporary number. When it came to move day, it was therefore quite easy for the telephone company to switch the number from the old system to the new.

Work to your deadlines and be decisive

As soon as First Line knew about ICS’s move, they placed an order for a leased line, giving the supplier the maximum possible amount of time to appoint a surveyor and arrange for a site survey.

However, as the project progressed, it became clear that this supplier was not going to move fast enough. So the team placed another order with a more aggressive supplier to get the clock ticking.

Always have a Plan B

But, even with this new supplier, John and Nim were worried that they would be working too close to the wire. So they decided to install some temporary copper lines and an ADSL connection, just in case. ‘We needed to make sure that ICS could still move, and that they would still be able to function when they had moved, even if the leased line wasn’t completely ready,’ said Nim.

In the event, it wasn’t ready, but ICS’s customers would never have known, as staff were able to keep communicating for two days on the old-fashioned copper lines.

Keep talking

ICS had given First Line responsibility for handling the whole of the technical side of the move, but this didn’t mean that they stopped taking an interest themselves. ‘We spoke on the phone every day, and ICS were always up-to-date with what was happening,’ said John. ‘They trusted us to make the right decisions, but they still needed to know what was going on. This was especially the case with the broadband, as it was going to be very noticeable to staff that it wasn’t as fast as they were used to. However, they knew what was happening, they understood why, and therefore they were happy to work with it for the two days before the leased line kicked in.’

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